Tigers' Matthew Boyd views rough patch as a growth opportunity, not setback

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
Tigers pitcher Matthew Boyd has given up nine earned runs, including four homers, in his last two starts.

Detroit — Tigers left-hander Matthew Boyd is coming off back-to-back rough starts for the first time this season.

He’s allowed nine runs in 10 innings over those starts, and in the month of June he’s allowed seven home runs in 22 innings. That after yielding seven home runs in his first 72 innings this season.

But if you think he spent his between-starts bullpen session making major adjustments ahead of his start Wednesday against the Rangers, you would be mistaken.

“Nothing out of the ordinary,” he said Tuesday. “There’s nothing to retool or build back up. How I measure success isn’t dictated by the box score. Obviously, the goal is to win, I’m not naïve to that. I know what my role is as a pitcher on this team.

“But there are so many things that are out of your control in this game, you have to mix in how you measure success.”

Understand, by just about every measure, Boyd is having a stellar season. He is still among the American League leaders in strikeouts and WHIP. But, his ERA in June has climbed from 2.85 to 3.61. Opponents were hitting .218 against him in April and May, they are hitting .290 against him in June.

And, more significantly, as the ace of the staff, the Tigers are 6-10 in his starts and 0-4 in June.

But like he said, some of that was in his control, but a lot of it wasn’t.

“It’s if you are in control of yourself, if you are attacking one pitch at a time and how you are attacking with those pitches,” Boyd said. “There are always things to get better at within that. In the grand scheme of things, there is nothing different that I am working on.”

The home runs have been perplexing. In giving back a 5-2 lead against the Indians in Cleveland on Friday, he gave up three home runs — on a slider, a change-up and a fastball. Eight of the 14 homers he’s allowed have come on his fastball.

“I made a few mistakes and obviously you want to minimize the mistakes,” Boyd said. “But the mistakes are being magnified because they’re costing me runs. That’s the way it happens sometimes. You build off that and understand why it happened and do your best to attack from that.”

Boyd doesn’t look at two rough starts as a setback in his season. He looks at it as an opportunity to grow.

“It’s like taking a light into a dark room and the light stays on,” he said. “You keep finding out that there’s really no walls. Just keep exploring that space and growing that space — you are expanding what you know, in that sense.

“You’re not just staying stagnant. You are growing. You are continuing to evolve.”

Where's Greiner?

Walking into the Tigers clubhouse Tuesday, seeing that catcher Bobby Wilson’s locker had been moved next to John Hicks’, it was clear that Grayson Greiner’s locker had been cleared out.

Greiner is on the injured list with a back injury. He’s been in Lakeland getting treatment since he was shut down on June 15. But it’s odd that his locker was cleared out. Other injured players — Tyson Ross, Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer — all still have their lockers in the clubhouse.

Daniel Norris missed three months last season and his locker was never moved.

“That’s not my department,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I didn’t know that, but I hadn’t heard his name not one time. I know he’s getting treatment on his back, but I haven’t seen one report on him.”

The tentative plan is for Greiner to play his rehab games at Triple-A Toledo, but there is no timetable for when he will begin baseball activities. Greiner was hitting .162 at the time of the injury, so it’s possible his stay in Toledo could be through the All-Star break, at least.

Mercer update

Speaking of Mercer, his rehab at Toledo is off to a slow start, and not just because he went 3-for-12 in his first four games.

“He’s still got some soreness,” Gardenhire said. “He just has to play through it. The doctors said it’s going to be there for a little bit until you get on your legs more and start really pushing it through nine innings.”

Mercer, out with a linger right quad strain, played six innings at shortstop Tuesday and went 2-for-3. He has been the designated hitter twice and played half a game at shortstop so far.

“He needs to really stretch it out and see if his body holds up,” Gardenhire said. “That’s all he can do. He’s got to play through it.”

Around the horn

The Tigers optioned third baseman Dawel Lugo back to Toledo after the game Tuesday. They will make a corresponding move Wednesday. Jeimer Candelario will likely be coming back up. 

...The Tigers, who have been getting by with four starters for several weeks, will need a fifth starter on Saturday. And with a makeup doubleheader in Chicago on July 3, they will need a fifth and a sixth starter. Left-hander Gregory Soto would be an option for Saturday. Drew VerHagen, who is not on the 40-man roster but is pitching well at Toledo, may also be an option.

…Left-hander Ryan Carpenter, who has made seven starts with the Tigers this season, may have pitched himself out of consideration. He gave up 11 runs in 3⅔ innings in his last start for the Mud Hens.

…The Tigers agree to terms with right-handed pitcher Ted Stuka, the club’s 14th round pick in the draft. They have signed 32 of their 40 picks.    


Twitter: @cmccosky

Rangers at Tigers

First pitch: 7:10 p.m., Wednesday

TV/radio: FSD, 97.1

Scouting report:

LHP Mike Minor (7-4, 2.52), Rangers: He has allowed three runs or less in his last 11 starts. He stymied a good-hitting Indians team in his last start, allowing a run and three hits in eight innings. He has one of the best spin rates in baseball on both his fastball and slider, but his best pitch might be his change-up (.186 OBA).

LHP Matthew Boyd (5-5, 3.61), Tigers: Coming off a couple rough outings (allowing nine runs in his last 10 innings). The home run ball has vexed him in his four starts this month. After allowing seven homers in his first 72 innings, he’s allowed seven over his last 22 innings.